Earlier this week Cross Plains kicked off its centennial celebration with a reenactment of the land auction for the original town lots. The reenactment was held at the Cross Plains High School Auditorium on the 100th anniversary of that momentous occasion.
In the early 1900s Callahan County was still sparsely populated, but local leaders were looking for ways to bring new citizens to the county. Before it was Cross Plains, the town sat near the Turkey Creek and was known as both Turkey Creek and Schleicher before the US Postal Service came along in 1877 and named it Cross Plains. With the Texas Central Railroad coming through the area, officials needed a town to service the line. Having the town remain down by the creek was not feasible due to flooding in the low lying area. So in order to get the much needed rail line, the town moved up the road to higher ground and lots were staked out and sold. On January 11, 1912, the first train arrived, the Texas Central, which was soon to become the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. In 1919, Doctor Howard moved his family to the newly formed town and put down roots.
The town will have something scheduled each month to celebrate the centennial. Among the most well-known events are the Robert E. Howard Days and the Barbarian Festival, held simultaneously during the second weekend of June. There also will be a pancake supper in March, a fireworks display for July 4, a centennial parade Sept. 24, all leading up to the 100th anniversary of the November 11, 1911 election in which the townspeople voted for incorporation.
A 100 years brought quite a bit of change. The Great Depression and oil booms came and went, the railroad left, and the town suffered devastation from weather and fire, but the character of the town and its residents was strengthened by that adversity, making it truly a caring community. Mayor Ray Purvis says it best: “This town pulls together when something happens — everybody pulls together. It’s a great town to live in.”